Hanna's Dvar Torah

The King and the High Priest were not invited - Pinchas

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A Jew came once to the Rebbe and complained about a rabbi who was only thinking about his own interest and not about the whole Jewish people. The Rebbe smiled and told him about an interesting law.

When the Temple existed, a large assembly of all the rabbis took place once a year in order to decide if the upcoming year would be a leap year, adding an extra month of Adar. Even though all the important people were invited to this assembly, the two most important were not: The King and the High Priest. Why?

The King was not invited because he had an interest in adding an extra month. He was paying the soldiers yearly, so if the year was longer, he would benefit more. The High Priest was not invited for the opposite reason. His interest was the year should be shorter. If an extra month was added, Yom Kippur would fall later in the year, closer to the winter. On this holy day, the High Priest had to go to the Mikve five times, and the later Yom Kippur would fall, the colder the water of the Mikve would be…

The Rebbe explained to the man that no one can trust himself not to think about his own benefit. Even someone on a high spiritual level such as the High Priest, even for a small benefit (a few degrees in the temperature of the Mikve) could not trust himself.

This was Moses’ line of thinking in this week’s Parasha Pinchas. Five women, whose father had died in the desert and did not have brothers, came to Moses and asked to inherit the portion of the land of Israel of their father. They explained to Moses that their father had not died in one of the big sins of the Jewish people such as the rebellion of Korach against Moses.

Moses did not answer them and turned to G-d. Even though Moses knew the law, he did not want to judge on his own, since he had been bribed in some way. The women, by telling him that their father did not take part of the rebellion against him, had sweet-talked to him. Moses realized this and asked G-d to decide instead of him.

Each one of us loves himself, and as we know, love covers up for everything. It is very important not to judge or take important decisions on our own, because we may not be seeing the whole picture. We are somehow bribed…

The Mishna tells us to choose a rabbi, someone we esteem and can consult for our important decisions. Someone neutral who will be able to help us to decide correctly.

If even Moses refused to decide on his own when the matter regarded him personally, then how can we? We certainly need to consult with someone neutral.

Shabbat Shalom!


Why was the Minister of Defense replaced? - Balak

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During the days preceding the 6 Day War, everyone in Israel was worried and afraid. In those critical hours, the people demanded to replace the Minister of Defense, Levi Eshkol, something that was indeed realized. But why? It was because when he spoke in the radio to update the country about the situation, he stumbled on his words, resulting in everyone panicking even more than they were before.

A good leader is judged in times of crisis. He or she needs to be a source of strength for the people and not the opposite, as was King Balak in this week’s Parasha.

The Parasha tells us that Balak, King of Moav, heard that the Israelites defeated the Emorites, and consequently, all the people of Moav feared the Jews. How did a piece of news that the king received, influence the entire people?

The scholar Rashi explains that Balak could not resist and keep it secret. The people of Moav did not have the necessary strength to fight the Jewish people in any case, this is why Balak called the sorcerer Bilam to curse the Jewish people and fight them with non-conventional weapons. Then, why did the King need to reveal this military secret to everyone and cause them to panic?

On the contrary, in last week’s Parasha, we saw Moses worrying about the war with Og, the King of Bashan. Many years before, Og had helped Avraham and therefore he had received the blessing of a very long life. Now, Moses was afraid that the merit of this good action would help him win the war. G-d reassured Moses that everything will go well, and indeed, the Jewish people won. Note however, that only Moses was worried, and that he shared his fears with G-d only.

There are people like Balak, who are governed by their heart and their instincts, and react impulsively. There are people like Moses, who listen to their heart, but their mind is the one that eventually decides.

Who would you like to emulate?

Shabbat Shalom!


The secret to happy Judaism - Chukat

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Why do some people find fulfillment and joy in Judaism, while others only get bored?

Why is Judaism interesting and attractive to some, while for others not at all?

Why can one man not imagine his day without putting on Tefilin, whereas another has not touched his since his Bar-Mitsva, 30 years ago?

Why does one woman anticipate during the whole week the Shabbat prayer at the synagogue, whereas another cannot wait for the service to end so that she can leave?

In this week’s Parasha, we learn about the Mitsvah of the Red Heifer. This is an unexplained Mitsvah which we need to keep, just because G-d has told us so. No one understands its logic, expect for Moses.

According to the Midrash, G-d told Moses that he first needed to accept this Mitsvah as is, as an unexplained G-dly law, and only then would G-d reveal to him the reason behind it.

Almost of the questions regarding Judaism have answers. But in order to understand them, we need to be ready to listen. Someone can hear a very nice explanation, but if he or she is not mentally ready to accept that something new may be true, he or she will never get convinced. Yet if we have an open mind and the will to listen, then Judaism will turn out to be the most logical thing in the world.

This is the answer to the questions we asked in the beginning. In order to relate to Judaism, we need to truly want to understand it. To believe that it is something good and positive. If we do not want to be convinced, nothing will manage to touch us.

Let’s be like Moses. Moses accepted the Mitsvah with faith, and then comprehended it. We need to believe that Judaism has a lot to offer to us, that we will discover it, understand it and enjoy it.

Thus, we will certainly bring Mashiach closer, even today!

Shabbat Shalom,


The perfect color combination - Korach

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The printer in our university’s dorms where I live, only prints in black and white. It prints all the other colors in grey, and the pictures do not come out nice…

We can manage with such a printer, but what about people who function like this? Who have a simplistic vision of the world, everything is either black or white, good or bad.

In this week’s Parasha, Korach became jealous when he saw several of his relatives, such as Moses and Aharon, taking up important positions in the leadership of the Jewish nation, while he himself did not get anything. The drop that overflowed the glass and led Korach to rebel against Moses, was the story of the spies, which we read last week.

The spies wanted to stay in the desert. They preferred to devote themselves to the study of the Torah, something they would not be able to do in Israel: they would need to cultivate the land there, whereas in the desert they ate the Manna without any work. Moses explained to them that the most important and the final goal is the action, not the study.

At that point, Korach asked himself: if the study was the most important thing, then clearly Moses and Aharon should be the leaders, as their Torah knowledge is greater. But if action is what matters, then why should Moses be better than the others? Everyone eats the same Matsah, wears the same Tsitsit and lights the same candles of Shabbat. There is no difference among them.

The mistake of Korach and of the spies was that they went to extremes. On the one hand, the spies gave emphasis to the study and the lofty feelings and dismissed the action. Korach on the other hand, thought that a simple technical action was enough, dismissing the study and the feeling, the kavana.

The correct path is the middle path. A beautiful combination of the technical action with intention and feeling. Not everything in life is either back or white… we need both.

Let’s think about some important action that we do daily and that we could enrich with thought and feeling. A gift without any thought or feeling does not have a lot of value…

Let’s think about a thought or a feeling that are not expressed in this material world and let’s reveal it with actions. Love without actions does not have a lot of value…

The success of the right combination of action and feeling is the most beautiful thing, like a beautifully colored picture.

Shabbat Shalom,


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